Monday, January 14, 2013

Can't Think Straight?

My latest interview is up at Celebrating Authors. 

I also wanted to share some thoughts with you that arose from a twitter conversation. I wrote this post before watching part of the Golden Globe Awards on TV yesterday, and realized it's very timely.

Can't Think Straight?

This blog post was inspired by a little conversation I had on twitter. When we read or write, there’s a temptation to put faces to the characters. Many beloved book characters have come to a different life in a movie or TV show, and our easy (over-?) exposure to this media, helps the process. Many fellow authors have written about the actors they would like to see should their book ever become a movie, and fans of book series speculate about who could impersonate their heroes.

In said twitter exchange, I mentioned that Amanda Seyfried (Chloe, Gone, Les Mis√©rables) would be among my Top 5 choices (for Callie Bryan). In return, I got a question that baffled me: Didn’t I prefer actors that fit the orientation of my characters (in the case of Autumn Leaves, lesbian, which is easy to tell from the cover even if you haven’t read the book). I have several questions of my own.

  1. To all writers who have posted pictures and written blogs about their fantasy casting, does sexual orientation ever play into your consideration? 
  1. What about Chloe, etc.?
  1. What about subtext?

 Granted, most of the blog posts I’ve seen were from straight romance authors, featuring pictures of actors/models that, I assume, are straight too. Then again, it’s the very definition of the acting profession that you can be anyone, more often someone who differs greatly from your real life persona than not. I imagine actors find some kind of link to their characters, their motivation and passion, but basically, for a good actor, there are few limits.

We know about gay actors who have played straight (Matt Bomer, Neil Patrick Harris), and the other way around.

Talking about Amanda Seyfried, there’s of course the movie Chloe. Other actresses who are famous for their (straight) signature roles in TV shows today, have played lesbians before:

A few examples:

Kyra Sedgewick (The Closer) and Julianna Marguiles (The Good Wife) played a couple in the Thanksgiving-themed movie What’s Cooking.

Jill Hennessey (Crossing Jordan) played a lesbian character in Chutney Popcorn.

Lena Headey (Sarah Connor Chronicles) and Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs) played a couple in Imagine Me and You.

Fans have, for a long time, celebrated subtext between two members of the same gender in movies and TV. It’s a subculture on its own, and the actors who have played these characters, are seldom gay in real life. It doesn’t matter, because the relationship potential, lovingly explored in fanworks, is about the characters, not the actors.

This is my very long answer to a simple question: No, I don’t consider an actress’s sexual orientation when I imagine who could play my character. If I did, I would limit myself to few choices. The lack of visibility of LGBTQ characters in Hollywood is a problem as it is, and saying that only gay professionals could impersonate gay characters would only make it worse in my opinion.

Who would you cast? Let me know! Autumn Leaves is available at Eternal Press (e-book) and as paperback + Kindle on Amazon and everywhere.

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